Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Define "meaningful"

Meaningful: (adj.) Term used in public relations statements to provide comfort to a critical audience while being vague about the means that will be used to achieve the stated end.

The circumstances are vastly different in gravity, but the usage is similar.
"...we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time."

- Kevin Systrom, Instagram blog post in response to public outcry over terms of service changes.

"We believe that having a meaningful dialogue with our community through our notice and comment process is core to that effort moving forward."

- Elliot Schrage, Our Site Governance Vote post re: Facebook Site Governance Vote that allowed removal of the 30% binding vote system.
"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

- Wayne LaPierre, Wayne's Commentary NRA Statement. First public statement from NRA since Newton, CT massacre.

Forgot about this one:
"...we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
 - Barack Obama, Statement by the President on the School Shooting in Newtown, CT.

Mike Bloomberg took him to task on it.

The thing is, if you use "meaningful" to make your intended action sound different from what you're doing the rest of the time, just what exactly are you doing the rest of the time?